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Trump walked away from infrastructure negotiations before they really began

After a Trump outburst, infrastructure week appears to be dead.

President Trump Discusses Mueller Investigation In Rose Garden Of White House
President Donald Trump walks away after speaking about Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election in the Rose Garden.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

President Donald Trump made official Wednesday what many have suspected for months: There will never actually be an infrastructure week, or at least there won’t be as long as House Democrats are investigating him.

In response, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she’d “pray” for the president.

After an “excellent” infrastructure meeting between Trump and Democratic leaders last month, a second planned meeting between the two sides on Wednesday went completely awry.

Trump and Democrats barely talked about infrastructure before the president said he would refuse to work with Democrats until they stopped investigating him. Trump walked out soon after — fuming that Pelosi recently accused him of engaging in a “cover-up” for refusing to comply with congressional subpoenas.

“Instead of walking in happily to a meeting, I walk in to look at people that just said that I was doing a cover-up. I don’t do cover-ups,” Trump complained to the press in the White House Rose Garden shortly after the meeting with Democrats, standing in front of a sign that said “No Collusion, No Obstruction.”

Although Pelosi has made it clear she doesn’t think impeaching Trump is worth it at this point, she doesn’t plan to back down on investigations. Just a few hours after a meeting where she tried to steer members of her caucus away from impeachment, Pelosi alluded to it herself.

“That’s why I think the president was so steamed off this morning ... he’s obstructing justice and engaged in a coverup, and that could be an impeachable offense,” Pelosi said at a Center for American Progress forum on Wednesday, a few hours after her White House meeting.

As far as infrastructure goes, Democrats say Trump has dashed any hopes of a bipartisan package getting done this year.

“We want to work with the president on anything we can, provided he’s willing to work with us, and so far it doesn’t look like it,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters. “I think they can’t figure out a way to do infrastructure, and they came up with a very inelegant way to get out of it.”

Infrastructure week, we hardly knew ye

Infrastructure week has become a longstanding joke on Capitol Hill. In theory, it’s one of the few issues that Democrats and Trump could agree on. But each time it’s come up, it’s been eclipsed by a number of Trump-related scandals, or bickering between the White House and Democrats.

Late last month, there was a sliver of hope around infrastructure talks. Democrats went to the White House to meet with Trump, and the president, Pelosi, and Schumer all agreed they should invest $2 trillion in the nation’s roads, bridges, and rural broadband. But they didn’t get to any of the hard specifics, like how they’d pay for such a massive investment.

The question of how to pay for a massive infrastructure investment was supposed to be the sticking point of Wednesday’s meeting, but Trump didn’t even let it get that far. Instead, the president was consumed with Democratic investigations into his administration and personal finances.

“For some reason, maybe it was lack of confidence on his part ... he took a pass, and it just makes me wonder why he did that,” Pelosi said during a press conference after the meeting. “In any event, I pray for the president of the United States.”

Of course, there have been signs of trouble on an infrastructure deal for months. Even though both the White House and Democrats have been saying they’re eager to work on something, Democrats had been getting radio silence from the administration. Going into the meeting, Democrats suspected Trump wasn’t serious about making a deal.

“Despite signals in the previous few weeks that he might not be serious ... we came here very seriously,” Schumer said. “This was clear this was not a spontaneous move on the president’s part. It was planned.”

Now it’s more or less confirmed that there will be no more progress on infrastructure for the rest of Trump’s tenure. What remains to be seen is whether the president can negotiate with Democratic leaders on even more basic things, like a budget deal.

For now, infrastructure week appears to be dead.

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